Former guerrilla and former mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro, of the Historical Pact coalition, has won Sunday’s runoff election for the Colombian presidency. It is the first time ever that a leftwing candidate will govern the South American country.
With 98.86% of the polling stations reporting, Petro obtained 11,185,671 votes, equivalent to 50.49%. His rival, the independent populist Rodolfo Hernandez, of the League of Anticorruption Governors, received 10,468,781 (47.25%), stated the election authorities.
Petro’s advantage over Hernandez is 716,890 votes, equivalent to 3.24%, greater than what the polls predicted, which said it was too close to call, some of them with less than a percentage point of difference.
Petro, a 62-year-old economist, will succeed Iván Duque as of August 7, and will govern in the period 2022-2026.
The president-elect assured that “today is a fiesta for the people” and dedicated his victory, which he described as “the first popular victory”, to the citizenry.
“Today is a day of celebration for the people. May so much suffering be cushioned in the joy that today floods the heart of the Homeland. This victory for God and for the People and their history. Today is the day of the streets and plazas,” Petro said in a message on Twitter.
Candidate Rodolfo Hernández accepted his defeat in the runoff election, saying he hoped Petro would know how to lead the country.
“I sincerely hope that this decision the people have made is beneficial for everyone and that Colombia is heading towards the change that prevailed in the first round of voting. My hope is that Dr. Gustavo Petro knows how to lead the country, that he is firm against corruption and that he does not disappoint those who trusted him,” said Hernandez in a short message broadcast on Facebook.
Congratulations from President Duque
Colombian President Ivan Duque congratulated Petro on Sunday for his victory in the runoff election that will make him his successor.
“I called @PetroGustavo to congratulate him as president-elect of the Colombians. We agreed to meet in the coming days to start a harmonious, institutional, and transparent transition,” Duque wrote on Twitter.
Duque defeated Petro four years ago in the second round of the presidential elections, after which Petro became head of the opposition to his government. That leadership paved the way for today’s victory, which will allow him to govern in the period 2022-2026.
Several times before the voting, President Duque had called on Petro to say he would accept the results of the polls and asked the contenders to trust the electoral authorities, in response to the complaints of the Historical Pact about alleged electoral fraud.
When voting Sunday morning in Bogotá, Duque asked Colombians to have “confidence in the institutions” and “full confidence in the verdict of the Colombian people.”
The president also promised a “peaceful, orderly, and institutional transition.”
After voting Duque said: “From now I can tell the candidate elected today that he will have my full support to start the presidential transition process.”